Turtleman in Oldham County!

La Grange’s Abbott lures
TV star to his home to rid pests

Reality show episode
will feature Brown’s capture of skunk

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. (December 2012) – When Tony Abbott’s property was invaded by wild critters, he knew just who to call – Ernie Brown Jr., better known as “Turtleman.” Brown was on the scene and bagged the pests before the sun went down.
Abbott knew he was in trouble when a skunk invaded a building on his property and refused to leave. “The skunk had a hole outside of the building where he buried himself,” he said.

Ernie Brown Jr.

Photo provided

Ernie Brown Jr.,
a.k.a. “Turtleman,”
recently filmed an
episode of his popular
“Call of the Wildman”
TV show in La Grange,
Ky., with local resident
Tony Abbott. The
episode is scheduled
to air soon on cable
TV’s Animal Planet.

Abbott, a chainsaw artist, usually carves his artwork under the shade of a tree on his property in Oldham County. When a rat snake got into his log pile, he knew Turtleman could catch the varmints and rid him of this nuisance.
“I’m a big fan,” said Abbott of the Turtleman’s “Call of the Wildman” show, which airs weekly on cable TV’s Animal Planet channel. His coming to Oldham County “was the best day of my life,” Abbott says. With his signature yell, Turtleman dug around until he ousted the critters.
A Washington County, Ky., native, Brown gained fame for running full speed and jumping into green or murky farm ponds to capture turtles using a technique taught to him by his father and uncle. At age 7, he began catching snapping turtles from ponds near his home, the largest being a 25-pounder.
He was noticed by Animal Planet TV show producers when he was featured on Kentucky Educational Television’s “Kentucky Afield.” His bare-handed turtle catching technique in the backwoods of Kentucky made for reality TV at its finest.
Brown is always accompanied by his dog, Lolly, and friend, Neal James, a.k.a. “Squirrel.” Brown is known for catching wild animals with his bare hands and without hurting them, and then releasing them back into the wild. Many episodes are filmed in Kentucky.
Abbott had actually met Brown earlier this year in March. Abbott had created a chainsaw carving of the popular critter hunter and took it to Lebanon, located in Marion County, Ky., where the now-famous turtle hunter lives. He entered it in a carving show and ended up being taped for a segment of a show for Animal Planet.
While there, it took some time before Abbott found Brown. He tried going through the local newspaper office and then the local tourism department before bumping into a woman who said she was Turtleman’s neighbor. She contacted Brown immediately and introduced him to Abbott.

Ernie Brown Jr. and Tony Abbott

Photo provided

Ernie Brown Jr.,
a.k.a. “Turtleman,”
hams it up with
chainsaw artist
Tony Abbott of
La Grange, Ky.,
during a recent
filming of “Call o
f the Wildman” reality
TV show. Abbott
made a wood carvin
g for his famous guest
that is pictured above.

The pair struck up a friendship, so it was only natural that Abbott contact Turtleman when he returned home and couldn’t get rid of the rat snake and skunk.
“He really is like what you see on TV,” said Abbott. “He’s so down to earth.”
When Brown and his crew came to Oldham County and visited Abbott a few months after initially meeting him to shoot footage for his show, it was “so exciting. I’d never done anything like that before,” Abbott said. “They filmed a lot of my carvings while they were there.”
Squirrel, who is one of Turtleman’s friends and sometimes appears on the show, is someone Abbott sees a lot.
While Brown and his film crew were in town, they dined with Abbott at Backwoods Barbeque.
As a token of his appreciation, Abbott has created a totem pole out of a pine tree in Brown’s yard for him. Abbott will soon be moving to Lebanon, where he will have the chance to visit more often with his backwoods friends.
Brown catches an average of 300 turtles a year and has been injured 33 times. He has caught more than 12,000 turtles to date, plus many more critters of the wild.
Quoting a phrase from the popular cable show, Abbott said Turtleman was “live action all the time.”
• More can be learned about Tony Abbott and the Turtleman’s visit on Facebook. Learn more about the show at www.Animal.Discovery.com. It is not known yet when the “Call of the Wildman” program on Abbott will air on Animal Planet but new episodes air each Sunday at 8 p.m.

Back to December 2012 Articles.



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